Iran wants to become the ‘dominant power’ in Middle East: Yohanan Plesner
Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, discusses Israel’s war goals as pressure mounts to bring hostages home.
Tehran has tried to take some credit for the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel as part of revenge for the killing of a high-ranking Iranian official, but the terrorist group Hamas flatly denied the claims in a bizarre spat between close allies.
“It’s natural for Hamas to deny any linkage here to avoid giving Israel more reasons to continue its military mission against the terror group,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital.
“Iran has been looking to wash blood away with blood since the killing of Soleimani, whose anniversary is near and it hopes to hype,” Taleblu explained. “It should come as no surprise that the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism would seek to use terror when responding to the loss of their chief terror mastermind.”
Middle East outlet Al Jazeera, which the Qatari government owns, reported Wednesday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard claimed the Oct. 7 attack, known as Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, was “one of the responses to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani.”
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Hamas, however, immediately rejected Iran’s statement, stressing that the group has “repeatedly” confirmed the “motives and reasons” for the attack, which it labeled as “acts of Palestinian resistance… in response to the Zionist occupation and its ongoing aggression against our people and our holy sites,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
An Iraqi judge who issued a an arrest warrant for Donald Trump over the death of Qassem Soleimani is expected to travel to Washington, D.C. (Pool/Press Office of Iranian Supreme Leader/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Iran’s claim follows the death of another senior IRGC adviser in Damascus on Monday, which the group labeled “an act of terrorism” committed by Israel, according to Iranian state media.
The Wall Street Journal, in the immediate aftermath of Oct. 7, reported that Iran helped plan the attack and train Hamas terrorists ahead of its execution. Hamas strongly and repeatedly denied Iran’s involvement, and Iran initially claimed it had no foreknowledge of the attack.
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U.S. leaders also said they saw no evidence of Iran helping Hamas plan the attacks – reports the U.S. has since reiterated, which makes Iran’s sudden claim so surprising and perplexing.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks while standing next to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, left, during a military parade in Tehran, April 18, 2023. (Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“Focusing on the ends, defined here as striking at the Jewish state, often matters more than the means or any intervening political motivation,” Taleblu argued. “This is what makes Iran a successful patron to its proxy network.”
“It’s natural for Hamas to deny any linkage here so as to avoid giving Israel more reasons to continue its military mission against the terror group,” he added.
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Hamas is just one of nearly two dozen proxy groups Iran funds and supports in the Middle East as part of its campaign against rival nations in the region, including the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Gaza Strip’s Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, greets lawmakers in Turkey on Jan. 3, 2012. (Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images)
Some of those other proxy groups have attempted to either expand the conflict with Israel or to attack the U.S. military assets and forces in the Middle East in order to disrupt American support for Israel.
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The U.S. Navy shot down 12 one-way attack drones, three anti-ship ballistic missiles and two land attack missiles fired by Houthis over a 12-hour period on Tuesday, U.S. Central Command reported this week. The Houthis have launched nearly 100 drones since Oct. 17 – much of their assets provided by Iran.
Fox News Digital’s Louis Casiano contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news.